Understanding the Value of Thangka Painting. Why Should anyone purchase thangka painting?Why is Thangka painting one of the best Handicraft to buy/gift?
A thangka painting is a very special form of art. An original thangka is painted using the colouring of gemstones and is finished with gold. It’s believed that the minerals used to create the painting also give them life. Each painting takes months to complete and the eyes are painted on last since they are believed to be the way into the soul. Once the gods receive their eyes, the painting goes from being an object to being alive and therefore is treated with the utmost respect.
“Devotion versus emotion?”
An outstanding difference between Traditional Tibetan art and other contemporary art forms is the motivation. Thangka are painted in strict adherence to guidelines, passed down from teacher to student. Devoid of ego, many thangka artists will not sign their pieces, firmly believing their ego should not be present on an image of a Buddha.
Decisions on the environment, or background, are often left to the artist, what they deem most beautiful, or honorific. However, proportions, mudras, implements, positioning, and colouring of the Buddhas and deities are not left open to interpretation.
Thangka paintings perform several different functions:
Images of deities can be used as teaching tools when depicting the life (or lives) of the Buddha.
They describe historical events concerning important Lamas
They often retell myths associated with other deities.
Devotional images act as the centrepiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests.
Overall, and perhaps most importantly, religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path to enlightenment. The Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner uses a Thangka image of their yidam, or meditation deity, as a guide, by visualising themselves as being that deity, thereby internalising the Buddha qualities. Thangka hangs on or beside altars, and may be hung in the bedrooms or offices of monks and other devotees.
Below I have explained about the 8 Auspicious Symbol where these symbols are used in most Thangka paintings. In Buddhism, these eight symbols of good fortune represent the offerings made by the gods to Shakyamuni Buddha immediately after he gained enlightenment. This is just to give you an idea that small details in thangka holds so much of deeper meaning into it and helps the person to be mindful and to live love and compassion. Thus, having a thangka at your place or even giving it as a gift to your loved ones will always be beneficial for good.
This wheel is also called the dharma chakra or the dhamma chakka and is often used to represent Buddha himself. It has also universally become the symbol for Buddhism. The dharma wheel has eight spokes, which represent Buddha’s Eightfold Path.
The three components of the wheel - hub, spokes, and rim - symbolise the three aspects of the Buddhist teachings upon integrities, wisdom, and attentiveness. The central hub represents ethical discipline, which centres and stabilises the mind. The sharp spokes represent wisdom or discriminating awareness, which cuts through ignorance. The rim represents meditative concentration, which both encompasses and facilitates the motion of the wheel. A wheel with a thousand spokes, which emanate like the rays of the sun, represents the thousand activities and teachings of the Buddhas. A wheel with eight spokes symbolises the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path, and the transmission of these teachings towards the eight directions.
When four swirls are depicted they are usually coloured to correspond to the four directions and elements, and symbolise the Buddha’s teachings upon the Four Noble Truths. The rim of the wheel may be depicted as a simple circular ring, often with small circular gold embellishments extending towards the eight directions.
The Buddha’s first discourse at the Deer Park in Sarnath, where he first taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path, is known as his ‘first turning of the wheel of dharma’.
The White Conch Shell
The right coiled white conch denotes deep, melodious, and sonorous sound of the Buddha’s teachings. In Buddhism, our voice does the Buddha’s work. This means that Buddhism is effectively propagated through sharing and dialogue with people.
As disciples of the Buddha, we need to have dialogue about Buddhism with as many people as possible in order for the Law to spread far and wide.
By sharing your joyful experiences as a Buddhist, you create an awareness that will awaken the Buddha-nature in people toward Supreme Perfect Enlightenment.
The Victory Banner
This symbol represents how Buddha won over the demon Mara. This demon, in Buddhism, is synonymous to passion, lust and pride. The Banner of Victory is used to remind people that one must win over their own pride, lust and passions to be able to reach enlightenment.
Similarly the gods elected to place a banner of victory on the summit of Mt. Meru, to honour the Buddha as the ‘Conqueror’ who defeated the armies of Mara.
The Pair of Golden Fish
In older times, the two fish were drawn to symbolise the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers. It has, through interpretation, come to mean luck and fortune. It also means the courage and fearlessness to face the ocean of sufferings and to be able to swim freely like fish through water.
In Buddhism the golden fishes represent happiness and impulsiveness, as they have complete liberty of movement in the water. They epitomise fertility and profusion, as they multiply very rapidly. They embody freedom from the fetters of caste and status, as they mingle and touch readily. Fish often swim in pairs, and in China a pair of fishes symbolise conjugal harmony and loyalty, with a brace of fishes being traditionally given as a wedding present.
The Treasure Vase
A vase can be filled with many different things. The vase, in Buddhism, can mean the showering of health, wealth, prosperity and all the good things that come with enlightenment.
Each of us has “the Treasure Vase” within us because we have the innate capacity as vast as the ocean to embrace the supreme Law of Buddhahood.
The parasol, in other words, an umbrella is a traditional buddhism symbol of royalty and protection from the raging heat of the tropical sun. The coolness of its shade signifies shield from the aching heat of suffering, temptation, hindrances, illnesses, and harmful forces. An umbrella can protect people from the different elements, like the sun or the rain. In this context, a parasol or umbrella can mean protection from suffering and harmful forces. It can also mean the enjoyment of the cool shade it provides.
Just like the Bodhi tree is the sanctuary from which the Buddha attain enlightenment, so is the parasol through which people enjoy the cooling shade of protection from Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
The Endless or Glorious Knot
It depicts the nature of reality where everything is interrelated and only exists as part of a web of karma and its effect. Having no beginning or end, it also represents the infinite wisdom of the Buddha, and the union of empathy and knowledge. Also, it signifies the illusory character of time, and long life as it is endless. This is seen in almost every Buddhist monastery or temple in Tibet.
The lotus flower is an eminent symbol of Buddhism. Most statues and sculptures of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas are portrayed to sit in a meditative posture on a platform of a lotus flower. In fact, Buddhas and bodhisattvas are said to have transformed, or born, from the lotus flower.
The lotus flower denotes truth and purity. In the Lotus Sutra, the white lotus sutra is used as a symbol to denote the Law of Supreme Perfect Enlightenment, which is the ultimate truth of life. Besides, the Buddha expounds the meditation upon Emptiness in The Sutra of Meditation on Bodhisattva Universal Worthy (closing sutra) as a means to purify all spiritual defilements so as to attain complete liberation from suffering.
The blossoming of the lotus flower represents the pinnacle of beauty and abundance in the state of Buddhahood, the unsurpassed state of life.In Buddhist symbolism the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speech, and mind as while rooted in the mud, its flowers blossom on long stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. It is also symbolic of detachment as drops of water easily slide off its petals.
Thangka Paintings want to communicate a message to the buddhist practitioner or anyone else looking at them. A thangka painting serves as an aid to teaching, as each detail on it has a deep meaning and refers to parts of the Buddhist philosophy. A Buddha painting also helps your Tibetan Buddhist meditations as it shows you how to visualise the deity.